The power of patina
Artist and gallery owner Maroun Chaccour tells ArtScoops how time spent restoring collectibles in his teen years resurfaced once again as a source of inspiration in his art
When, as a teenager, Maroun Chaccour began contributing to his parents’ antique restoration business, little did he know that a few years later, he’d be drawing on the skills and tools he acquired at that time to create his own artwork.
Chaccour explained that the family business had specialised in restoring high-end collectibles and antiques of both financial and historic value, even including pieces from the Presidential Palace.
“I loved being involved in the work, it was incredibly detailed and intrinsic,” he said. “Restoration also introduced me to patina – I found I absolutely loved working with wood, especially using gold and silver leaf on collectibles in need of some attention.”
Although he enjoyed contributing to the family business, Chaccour chose a different path when it came to his education, opting instead to study Sound Recording in London, where he came top of his class.
Returning to Lebanon, he put his studies to good use by working as a sound engineer. He also took on the role of creative coordinator at a firm that produced functional items from wood – a line of work that soon began triggering memories of just how much he’d enjoyed restoring antique furniture. Chaccour soon found himself drawn once more to the tools he’d used in his teen years, but this time, he was experimenting with them for his own personal creativity. “I began painting – something I hadn’t done for years – using the gold and silver leaf I’d always associated with restoration work on paper and canvas,” he explained.
As an artist, Chaccour believes his style is still very much evolving, but there are already characteristic traits in evidence across his work, which include a leaning towards large-scale geometric forms. Other motifs and sources of inspiration are intriguingly diverse, ranging from Venetian masks and circular shapes to blocks of colour. “The fantastic thing about patina as a source of inspiration is that it offers so much versatility and flexibility, and I think this is reflected in what emerges on the canvas,” he said. “I always follow my feelings; I don’t like to follow a pattern or adhere to the rules. I’m still searching and in no rush to be labelled.”
The scale of Chaccour’s inspiration was evident at a large-scale expo of his works held in 392rmeil393 Gallery, Beirut, in 2018, which featured 30 of his paintings. Today, his work has pride of place on ArtScoops, after a chance meeting with the online platform’s team led to him photographing key pieces of art for them.
Unlike many artists, however, Chaccour, only works when he feels inspired to do so, happily dividing his time between his painting and his other focus, which is his atelier – ATELIER CM - a fascinating treasure trove of collectibles, including a range of art by some of Lebanon’s most talented artists.
Chaccour explained that this veritable Aladdin’s cave was originally a meeting place for collectors and like-minded friends, which happened to also house an impressive collection of vintage sound systems from the 1970s and vinyl, amassed over the years. However, as Chaccour’s interest in art developed, so too, did the idea of using his atelier to showcase the work of his favourite artists, many of whom have become firm friends over the years and, like his loyal clients, are regular visitors to ATELIER CM.
The walls of the atelier are home to works by some of Lebanon’s most popular artists working today, from Raouf Rifai and Hassan Jouni to Jamil Molaeb.
Chaccour explained that he prides himself on taking delivery of the art he installs in his atelier directly from the artist, based on the emotion and passion that a work instils in him.
“I have to love a work to buy it, and since most of the artists and clients are friends of mine, still coming to the gallery for a chat and coffee, I find that works really well,” he said. “I don’t think of myself as a dealer or of the gallery as a shop; it’s about much more than that. I like to think I’m contributing to the conversation about art in Lebanon, encouraging its appreciation and supporting artists in these most challenging of times.”